GE Capital announced today the results of an ecomagination Treasure Hunt that will trim energy costs, reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improve overall efficiency at Exopack Holding Corp.’s Griffin, GA manufacturing facility. The process identified approximately $453,000 in annual energy-saving opportunities that could reduce Exopack’s energy spending at that location by 30% annually. Spartanburg, S.C.-based Exopack designs and manufactures packaging for products ranging from food to medical products to building materials, among others.
If Exopack implements all suggestions identified by the Treasure Hunt, it could reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 4.3 metric tons − the equivalent of eliminating more than 820 cars from the road or planting 107,179 tree seedlings and allowing them to grow for 10 years.
“The savings opportunities generated by the Treasure Hunt were beyond my expectations,” said Boyd Selby, plant manager for Exopack’s Griffin facility. “Additionally, the prospects that our teams uncovered will strengthen Exopack’s already strong position as an environmentally friendly manufacturer.”
The Treasure Hunt was led by GE Capital’s Access GE team, which guided Exopack’s key sustainability staff, facility employees and energy providers through the process. Access GE shares tools and insights from across GE’s diverse operations to help businesses tackle their most pressing challenges. That’s because GE Capital not only provides smart financing but it can also give customers access to the know-how of GE to make that financing work harder. Over the past 10 years, Access GE has completed more than 8,000 projects for approximately 6,500 companies globally.
Exopack’s greatest savings could come in the motors area. Twenty-two quantified cost-saving prospects were identified, totaling nearly $196,000 in potential cost savings, primarily through replacing older motors with newer, more energy-efficient ones.
The area with the second-greatest savings opportunities is lighting. Sixteen prospects were identified with potential savings of more than $142,000. Because the T-12 fixtures being used at this facility are being discontinued, the company will upgrade to new high-efficiency options.
“Exopack empowered its employees to find energy-saving opportunities at the grassroots level,” said Karen Dougherty, Access GE Leader. “Now that they’ve quantified and prioritized these energy-saving ideas, this is an opportunity to share the process and their learnings throughout the company.”
The process began weeks in advance by calculating the facility’s energy spending by type to form a baseline of its current energy usage and expenses. Exopack’s Griffin facility manufactures coextruded polyethylene films used in the production of flexible packaging. At nearly 138,000 square feet, the plant is home to 126 employees.
Later, nearly two dozen people convened at the facility to investigate resource consumption and recommend waste reduction methods. The participants were divided into three teams based on their expertise, which coincided with the types of energy used on-site: Compressed air and HVAC, electrical/lighting, and motors. Guided by Access GE’s seasoned facilitators utilizing lean methodologies, the teams studied the facility’s energy usage at three periods over two-and-a-half days: Fully at rest, start up, and full production / full usage.
Based on a model originally developed by Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America and later adapted for its own purposes, GE has conducted more than 200 Treasure Hunts internally, resulting in $150 million in savings. After testing the concept’s effectiveness, GE decided to share these best practices externally.
Managing 18 production facilities strategically positioned across North America and the United Kingdom, as well as a global network of alliance partners, Exopack (exopack.com) is an established leader in the development, manufacture, and sourcing of flexible packaging and coatings solutions for various consumer and industrial end-use markets. As a leader in the packaging industry, Exopack is also a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.
Ecomagination (ge.ecomagination.com) is GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. This includes doubling its investment in clean research and development, and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and improving the energy efficiency of its operations, among other commitments.
GE is driving a global energy transformation with a focus on innovation and research and development (R&D) investment to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technology. In 2009, GE invested $1.5 billion on ecomagination R&D, reaching the commitment to double its annual investment by 2010 one year ahead of schedule. GE continues to be committed to unleashing new technology. In 2010, it committed to investing an additional $10 billion in ecomagination R&D by 2015.
GE reduced its GHG emissions by 22% in 2009 compared to 2004. GE also improved its energy intensity 34% compared to 2004, surpassing the goal of 30% in 2012. And the company has reduced its GHG intensity 39% compared to 2004. By 2015, GE will improve the energy intensity of its operations by 50%, and will reduce its absolute GHG emissions by 25%, using the 2004 baseline.
GE reduced water consumption 30% compared to a 2006 baseline, surpassing the original goal of 20% by 2012.
In 2009, ecomagination revenues grew six percent to $18 billion even in a challenging global environment. GE has committed to growing ecomagination revenue at twice the rate of total company revenue in the next five years, making ecomagination an even larger proportion of total company sales.
GE Capital (gecapital.com) offers consumers and businesses around the globe an array of financial products and services. Follow company news via Twitter (@GECapital).
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